TRAVERSE CITY — Kathy Hyland’s Boston terrier had a close call.
The dog named Lucy was about five years old and sick with a yeast infection that made her hair fell out, caused ear infections and made her skin raw. Hyland was afraid of losing her, so she researched her symptoms and found Lucy’s diet of conventional dog food might be behind her health problems.
Switching to a high-protein, low-carb dog food was the answer.
“I changed her diet and nursed her back to health, and I made it my mission to teach other people how to feed their pets,” Hyland said.
Hyland’s still on that mission six years later, with a healthy 12-year-old Lucy at her side and a successful new business.
Hyland opened Pets Naturally, a holistic pet food store on South Airport Road, in December. The store had its grand opening in February with giveaways, a silent auction, a fundraiser for the Cherryland Humane Society and AC PAW and lots of customers.
Pets Naturally sells high-protein, grain-free foods without wheat, corn, soy or additives, and offers customers health supplements, soaps, toys and other natural pet products.
“Dogs are getting too many carbs and things they shouldn’t eat, like wheat,” Hyland said. “They’re becoming sick, they get allergies, skin issues, ear infections, what-not. Then they’re at the vet and put on steroids. Most of these issues can be resolved with diet.”
Hyland said scary recalls of conventional pet food brands and a growing awareness of the links between pet diet and health drive customers to her store. Sometimes those customers even stop to thank her for being in business.
“I think it was needed in our community,” Hyland said. “It’s a niche that hasn’t been filled.”